Give your children a healthy start with a free digital card

Parents in the most need are offered a pre-paid card to help them buy vitamins and healthy food for their children.  

There is nothing more important than giving your children a good start in life and that includes the right diet and other early health needs.      

However, this can be costly, so for those parents across the city who are most in need of support to provide their children with nutritional food and vitamins, there is help on offer - a free pre-paid card from the NHS Healthy Start scheme.    

Healthy Start is the UK’s food benefit scheme for pregnant women and young children in low-income families. The scheme helps families who are most in need of this support.    

Healthy food, drink and vitamins

Families get help to buy healthy food and milk, including fresh, frozen and tinned fruit and vegetables, fresh, dried and tinned pulses and infant formula milk.  Parents can also get free Healthy Start vitamins: Multi-vitamins for those pregnant or breastfeeding and vitamin drops for children aged 6 months to 4 years old.  

Three out of ten families in Brighton and Hove who are eligible have not yet taken up the offer of a Healthy Start card. If you think this might include you, apply today.  The card was introduced earlier this year and replaces the vouchers (which can still be used until you run out).   

Councillor Sue Shanks, Chair of Brighton & Hove City Council Health and Wellbeing Board, said: “All parents know how vital it is to give their babies and young children the best possible start to life by feeding them the most healthy food.    

 “But we know it’s easier said than done with the high cost of fresh food reducing low-cost healthy choices. I therefore, encourage all parents on low incomes to apply for the Healthy Start card which gives some vital cash towards buying nutritional food. During the cost of living crisis, this is a welcome boost.’’  

Apply for your prepaid Health Start card 

If you’re more than 10 weeks pregnant or have at least a child under 4 and are on benefits, you may be entitled to receive the card to help to buy healthy food and milk. Anyone under 18 and pregnant can apply. 

You’ll be sent a Healthy Start card with pre-paid money on it that can be used in many shops. Your card will be topped up with money every 4 weeks: £4.25 each week of your pregnancy from the 10th week, £8.50 each week for children from birth to 1 year old, £4.25 each week for children between one and 4 years old.   

The Healthy Start card is easy to apply for, including online, or by email or phone. If you can't apply online, you can call the helpline on 0300 330 7010.  Once you have received the card, activate your card by calling 0300 330 2090 and get your PIN to use in shops where you can pay by card. 

The Healthy Start card can be used in any shop that accepts Mastercard and you can check your balance at any time. 

Check if you are eligible

You could be eligible if you are on a low income and receive benefits ((including; Universal Credit, Child Tax Credit, Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Pension Credit (which includes the child addition), Working Tax Credit run-on, income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)). If you are under 18 and not getting benefits you could still be eligible. 

More information 

For more information on the Healthy Start card see the NHS website and @NHSHealthyStart,  #NHSHealthyStart. 

For more advice on healthy eating: 

  • To give your baby a good start to life NHS start4life gives you advice on pregnancy, birth and parenthood, including introducing your baby to solids, breastfeeding challenges, learning to talk, weaning recipes and safe weaning. 

  • For parents with young children NHS change4life helps you and your family eat better and move more.  Join the project and you will receive regular emails containing healthy eating tips, quick and easy family recipes, fun activities for kids, and more. 

If you need more household support: 

  • If you’re facing a crisis and need help we can provide welfare advice, discretionary payments and other support.  Find out more on our help and support web page. 

  • To check if your child is entitled to free school meals or to apply please use our website application form. 

  • For debt advice Citizens Advice can be contacted on 0300 330 9033 or their website and Money Advice Plus service on 0800 988 7037. Visit the money advice website. 

  • Emergency help with food, energy bills and other essentials: If you receive benefits and need help to pay for essentials you can't live without, apply for help from our Local Discretionary Social Fund